Required Courses

The School of Art and Design History and Theory provides a core curriculum for Parsons undergraduate students from their first to their senior year. The school also offers elective and university lecture courses open to undergraduate students in all divisions of The New School.

FIRST-YEAR Requirements

First-year students are required to take three 3-credit courses, A History of the World Told Through Objects, Integrative Seminar 1, and Integrative Seminar 2. The integrative seminars are designed to give students tools and methods with which to respond to the world critically, teaching them to connect text and visual elements, investigate how cultural values can be transmitted through art and design, and communicate their discoveries and opinions clearly in writing. Each seminar is paired with a corresponding studio course that shares a common theme. The history course traces world history through the social, cultural, technological, and religious functions of objects—from prehistory to the Industrial Revolution—that are found in collections throughout New York City.

Upper-Level Core Courses

After completing the first-year requirements, students are expected to take three additional ADHT courses.

One course in the history of an art or design discipline, depending on the student’s major, is required. The following disciplinary history courses are offered through ADHT: History of Design: 1850–2000, History of Modern/Postmodern Art, History of World Architecture, History of Graphic Design, History of Design and Technology, History of Illustration, History of Fashion, and History of Photography. Students should consult the curriculum of their program for the appropriate course.

Students are also required to take one of two methodology courses, as designated by their major program. Introduction to Design Studies examines discourses generated by scholars and practitioners since the 1980s about the production, consumption, and interpretation of design. Its complement is Introduction to Visual Culture, which presents the key terms, debates, and concepts that have underpinned critical thinking about the relationship between art and visual practices since the advent of photography.

In their junior or senior year, depending on their major, students choose from a range of courses designed to prepare them for their capstone experience. ADHT pre-capstone courses enable students to reflect critically on art, design, and visual practices as they relate to sustainability, politics, and social justice. Through these courses, students continue refining the skills and thought processes they have acquired in their studies at Parsons: presentation skills, writing skills, self-reflection and peer reflection and assessment skills, executive skills, research skills, and systems thinking.

English as a second language

ESL classes develop students' ability to perform well in college-level courses conducted in standard American English. The English course placement test determines whether non-native English speaking students are required to take ESL courses and, if so, at what level. The test is given during the week before classes begin every fall and spring semester. All ESL classes instruct students in the writing of thesis-driven essays by addressing standard American English grammar, word usage, conventions of academic essays, and the various stages of the writing process. ESL courses also develop students' spoken English and their ability to comprehend both written and spoken English.

ADHT will ensure that first-year students enrolled in ESL can complete their required courses in a timely fashion by offering the first-year integrative seminars with sections that address the language needs of ESL students. These sections, like all integrative seminars, will be paired with integrative studio courses.

Please note that ESL courses for Parsons students are offered through the School of Languages at The New School for Public Engagement. For more information on ESL courses, contact ParsonsEnglish@newschool.edu.


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